Rochester Hills’ Christine Meier
advances to semifinals
BY DAN STICKRADT
HIGHLAND TOWNSHIP — Chances are that in match play of the Michigan Women’s Amateur, a golfer will face off with a former, current or future teammate.
It happened several times this week at Prestwick Village Country Club near Milford.
In quarterfinal play Thursday, Sarah Bauer of Grand Blanc and Devon Compton of Rochester Hills faced off, with Bauer advancing to the semifinals by 5-and-4 score. The two will be teammates this fall at the University of Michigan.
Bauer was an All-State Dream Team player in high school and will be a senior captain for the Wolverines this upcoming collegiate season. Compton, the Division 1 high school state medalist and Miss Golf in the fall of 2010, is a prized recruit for Michigan anxious to start her college career.
“I had fun today,” admitted Bauer of playing with her future teammate. “I haven’t played with her much because of the age difference. Just to be able to get out (and play together), it was a good time.”
Compton and Bauer were only on the high school circuit together one season, so this was a bonding experience, even if the two were rivals for four hours.
“I got a chance to know her a little better,” said Compton. “I had a chance to meet her on some visits a little bit (last school year), but being able to play (alongside) her and see her game, it was awesome to see that.
“I liked to see (Bauer) take the whole thing. She’s got the game for it,” added Compton. “She’s a really good player.”
Sarah Hoffman of Grand Rapids, the third-seed, rallied from a three-stroke hole to topple Elizabeth Ecker of Niles, who plays collegiately for Oakland University, by a 2-and-1 count.
Ecker had defeated a college teammate earlier in the day, edging Oakland’s Mara Kovac to reach the Elite Eight. Ecker and Kovac are two of three Oakland players that finished in the top 32 of stroke play to reach the match play tournament. They were joined by Alanna Gerber in the field.
“It’s was actually a lot of fun to play my teammate,” said Ecker, who prepped at Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic. “Mara is a really good competitor. We had a fun match, back and forth. It is always tough to see a teammate lose. You don’t want to lose, either, so you have to play well.”
Christine Meier of Rochester Hills, one of four players with local ties that reached Thursday afternoon’s quarterfinals round, pulled away to defeat Leah Grawburg of Mount Pleasant 7-and-6. The Michigan State sophomore-to-be has advanced to the Final Four at the MWA the past two years, falling in the finals last summer.
“I had a lot of good drives, hit a lot of green today,” said Meier, who was the 2009 Michigan prep Miss Golf and the Division 1 state medalist on the prep circuit. “Leah didn’t seem like she quite had it. She had a really grueling (Sweet 16) match.”
Meier’s sights are on the top prize, as she lost in the MWA championship round last year at St. Clair Country Club.
“(I’m looking for redemption) a little bit,” smiled Meier. “I made it the semis my first year and finals last year and ending up losing. I’m looking to take the next step.”
Meier’s semifinal opponent will be top-seeded Sarah Johnson of Wixom. Johnson toppled Lansing’s Stephanie Ross, 6-and-4, in the quarterfinals.
Semifinal play will begin Friday at 8:30 a.m. This will be the first time that Johnson and Meier will face head-to-head in their young but successful careers.
“I haven’t really played in a group (with Meier), but I’ve played in the same tournaments with her,” noted Johnson, who is making her first Final Four appearance at the MWA. “I really don’t know what her game is like.”
Johnson, who never played at Prestwick until this week, said she has found her groove on the prestigious course, only a short drive from her home. Johnson attended Walled Lake Central, where she was the Division 1 state medalist in high school in the fall of 2007, and is entering her junior season at Eastern Michigan.
“I would say that my drives were my best today. I hit really far and straight,” she smiled. “My game has been very steady, fairways and greens. My chipping, I need to get close to the hole on some (of my shots).”
Bauer will play Hoffman in Friday morning’s other semifinals. The finals will be played after lunch on Friday afternoon.
In Thursday morning’s Sweet 16 round, Johnson defeated Elizabeth Nagle, 1-Up; Compton toppled Massa, 3-and-1; Ecker downed Oakland teammate Kovac, 3-and-2; and Meier edged Heather Marks, 3-and-2.
For the three Oakland University players who were in the same part of the bracket in match play, they are close friends but competitors on the course. Alanna Gerber was OU’s third player to make the cut for the 32-player match play field.
“We hang out all the time,” admitted Kovac, who said her teammates will gather frequently at Somerset Mall in Troy during non-golfing hours. “I got (Ecker) addicted to Glee this year. It’s funny, we’re (all) good friends. It was really cool to see us all make (the cut).”
NEW CHAMPION TO BE CROWNED
Natalie Brehm (Mt. Pleasant/Michigan State) defeated Meier in the finals last season, just before Meier joined Brehm on the Michigan State roster for the fall 2010 collegiate season.
Brehm was the No. 20 seed this year after stroke play concluded Tuesday afternoon, but lost Wednesday to Melissa Beurmann, 5-and-3, to leave the field open for a new champion this week.
NARROWING THE FIELD
In Wednesday’s Round of 32, Meier (Rochester Hills) defeated Kelly Hartigan, 6-and-5; Maddi Massa, the No. 31 seed, upset No. 2 seed Gabby Yurik (Rochester Stoney Creek High School), 2-and-1; Compton defeated Hannah Lewis, 5-and-3; Kovac (Lansing Catholic Central/Oakland University) edged Gerber (Hudsonville/Oakland University); and Ecker (Niles/Oakland) downed Carly Saint Onge, 6-and-5.
The MWA often plays host to several young players who were standouts in high school, the previous three high school Michigan Miss Golf winners — Liz Nagel of DeWitt (2007 and 2008), Meier (2009) and Compton (2010), all who reached the quarterfinals at Prestwick. The favorite for the 2011 Miss Golf, Yurik of Oakland Township, also advanced to match play but did not get past the first round.
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